Spoiler-Free Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the film that finally allowed me to be at peace with the new trilogy of Star Wars movies. There was a lot that I loved about The Force Awakens two years ago. I thought the new cast of characters were all compelling, particularly Rey and Finn. I enjoyed seeing the old favorites back, I appreciated the way it tried to honor the films that came before, and generally found it to be both a fun ride and an emotional experience. At the same time, there were a number of things in The Force Awakens that did not sit well with me, which ultimately served as distractions from the experience. I felt its tone was inconsistent and its humor occasionally felt forced or like it didn’t fit stylistically within the greater Star Wars saga. It occasionally felt too much like fan fiction (and I don’t mean that as a compliment), and it tried too hard to try to distance itself from the prequels. It also was far too much of a remake of A New Hope, which is not a huge deal for me the way it is for other people but which felt kind of lazy. Most of all, it bothered me that they were continuing the main series of films without George Lucas, and in fact intentionally disregarding any plans he might have had for them. I understand why they did it, but The Force Awakens did not justify these new uncharted waters they were sailing. (On the other hand, I 100% love Rogue One, even if its characters aren’t nearly as strong as those in The Force Awakens.)

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Star Wars Prequels: A Good Foundation for the New Trilogy

I’ve never had a spot on the anti-Star Wars prequels bandwagon.  When The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, I was 14 and a huge Star Wars fan.  I was too young at the time to go to a midnight showing, so I had to wait all day to see the film that evening, and I could not sit still.  By the time the 20th Century Fox fanfare started playing, I was in tears, and stayed that way through most of the film.  I remember everyone in the theater enjoying it immensely, laughing and cheering throughout, and I saw it again two days later.  Needless to say, I’m a Star Wars fanboy, and while my 28 viewings of the Star Wars saga films in the theater are not anything close to a record, it’s safe to say that I was in no way disappointed by the prequels.

With the announcement that Disney and Lucasfilm will be making (at minimum) Episodes VII-IX, many people have found themselves revisiting that last Star Wars films that were released, giving the internet new justification for one of its favorite pastimes: prequel bashing.  Many of these have been presented as “Lessons J.J. Abrams Can Learn from the Prequels” containing a list of grievances against the film.  IGN recently featured an article of this type, and I want to address some of its complaints.  I’m going to do my best to set aside my fanboyism because I truly feel that Episodes I-III are great films, and have been unfairly maligned in the last 14 years.
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